Innovation and Economic Prosperity

Last month, Georgia Tech was designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP).

Wow. That’s a mouthful. What does it mean?

At the most practical level, it means that a team of people from all over campus, but led by EI2, conducted a four-month self-study of our economic development engagement and impact. That team included

  • Chris Downing – EI2, Co-lead
  • Juli Golemi – EI2, Co-lead
  • Bill Cutts – GTRI
  • Kirk Englehardt – GT Communications
  • Shabana Figueroa – GTPE
  • Lynne Henkiel – EI2
  • Greg King – USG & EI2
  • Carl Rust – OIR
  • Mark Weston – GTPE
  • Jan Youtie – EI2

And, although not part of the team, we received valuable advice from Margaret Wagner Dahl, EI2’s AVP of Health Information Technology. I appreciate all of your hard work!

IEP designation logoAt a more meaningful level, it means that APLU acknowledges Georgia Tech’s work with public and private sector partners in the state and region to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, workforce development, and community development. According to Peter McPherson, President of APLU,

“Public universities serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting-edge research to reach new breakthroughs, and by developing the talent to help existing businesses grow stronger and enabling new ones to develop and thrive. The institutions receiving the 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation serve as models. They demonstrate how public research universities extend beyond their campuses to engage their communities in economic development that creates jobs and improves lives.”

But, at the most significant level, it means that what we’re doing in EI2 in working. And the self-study gives us the beginnings of a road map to increase Georgia Tech’s economic engagement activities and enhance our partnerships around the region.

The self-study — documented in a 33-page application — included conducting a survey of 3000 of Georgia Tech’s internal and external stakeholders, collecting key economic development metrics, and comparing current economic development strategies in the context of Georgia Tech’s strategic plan. The assessment findings were presented at a feedback forum attended by both internal and external stakeholders.

Some of you were able to attend the forum. But you’ll be pleased to know that due to our focus on innovation and economic impact, Georgia Tech is increasingly being seen as a destination for top-notch faculty and students, for established and startup technology firms, and as a leader in economic development strategy and deployment.

EI2’s economic impact to the State of Georgia leverages our annual state support of approximately $7 million by a ratio of over 14 to 1. Tech Square is a national model for university-based innovation districts. As President Peterson has said, “Tech Square is a testament to what is possible when higher education, government, business, and the community work together. In just 10 years, it has become the place to be for high tech innovators and entrepreneurs in the Southeast.” And our education programs — both for students and for industry — are some of the best in the world.

Interestingly, one of the only areas where our survey showed a real need for improvement wasn’t in the programs and metrics surrounding our economic impact — but in communicating our successes. One of our first new hires in FY15 will be a marketing and communications manager, a new position jointly funded by Institute Communications, to start addressing that issue.

But the new IEP designation is a chance to reflect on everything that we’re doing, and to see how it meshes together across EI2 and across all of Georgia Tech. As you know, I host a lot of visitors to campus — from other universities, from other states, from industry, and even from other countries. I love telling our story because, as I often say internally; “It’s easy when all I have to do is tell the truth!”

Our programs are superb. Our people are superb. And, even though our funding isn’t where I want it to be, we get a lot done for the dollars we spend.

It’s nice that APLU noticed. Others are noticing, too.